Clinton High School senior Grace Tubbs is continuing to remind people that she’s an elite player. Not just in her school. Not just in the area. Not just in the state, but in the nation.
Tubbs recently learned that she was on the AVCA Under Armour All-America watch list for 2018. That’s an honor she shares with just two other athletes from the state of Iowa.
“I didn’t really understand it at first,” Tubbs said. “Then I was like, wait a second, All-American, that’s really awesome. Then I started looking at the list. It’s so exciting.”
It’s been earned. In addition to playing varsity for the River Queens for four years, leading the team in the front row, she’s been playing club ball out of Cedar Rapids. This summer, her team got second in the nation in Kansas City.
“It is very different but it’s where I’ve met some of my best friends in volleyball,” Tubbs said. “Those weekends we all get to go stay in a hotel together is just so much fun and something I really look forward to every year.”
It’s not shocking considering volleyball kind of runs in the family. Her older sister Elle is in her junior year at Drake University and making a splash in the Missouri Valley Conference, grabbing weekly honors just this week.
“Watching her was where I grew to love the game,” Tubbs said. “Getting to see her ... we’ve both been really successful in our seasons. Elle’s been getting a lot of rewards for her hard work, I’m really proud of her.”
Grace played with Elle when Elle was a senior and Grace was a freshman. The sisters never felt competition, instead felt a bond.
In fact, Grace says a moment that gave her chills and remains one of her favorites of her career was in her first varsity game. The River Queens were playing Davenport West and Grace made her first rightside block of her career. She looked behind her and saw her sister, nothing but excited for the younger Tubbs.
“It was one of the best feelings,” Tubbs said. “She made it a lot more calm. A freshman playing with seniors can be intimidating but I had my older sister there to almost protect me and be a mama bear.”
Coming off of last year, Tubbs missed the last Clinton volleyball match. For the regional match at North Scott you could see Tubbs on the sideline cheering on the Queens and nursing a knee injury instead of in the middle.
It was an eye-opening experience for her. She realized the importance of taking care of your body as an athlete and realized just how far her team could go the next year.
“Having to sit and watch that game was probably one of the hardest moments in my volleyball career,” Tubbs said. “But knowing that my team could get it done without me just makes me so proud of them and helps me understand the potential the team has this year, too.”
The River Queens have started out strong. Although they have a 4-4 record, they’ve already taken down ranked opponents like Ankeny.
Grace credits her team, which is full of multisport athletes.
“It’s really exciting because I know I always have someone to lean back on when I’m struggling,” Tubbs said.
One of those relationships is with junior setter Brooke Mulholland. In fact, in the attack, that’s probably the most important relationship Tubbs could have.
“Brooke and I mess around that we have telepathy,” Tubbs said. “That’s the kind of connection you love having with a setter.”
She’s started out strong. She already has 88 kills in the 24 sets she’s played, which is 50 more than the next highest River Queen and averaging four a set. Add in another 14 blocks and she’s well on her way to an unbelievable seniors year.
She credits work in the weight room this summer. She’s preparing for a college career at the University of Iowa and wants to make sure she’s as prepared for it as she can be.
But first, she wants to see the River Queens succeed.
“I want to continue to grow with my team and be the leader that they need me to be,” Tubbs said. “That’s sometimes hard because there’s a lot of pressure. I want to lead my team for positive reasons and not for selfish, personal goals.”